Really Living

I saw the bear coming in the almost dark wilderness campsite. My small band of teenagers I was leading through a long canoe route in the BWCA Wilderness had spotted him and booked it for camp a few seconds ago. I ran and grabbed the camera turning on the strobe flash hoping for a good closeup picture as I positioned myself between bear and food pack. I stopped him about 15 feet away with the flash temporarily blinding him while yelling for the teens to quick get the pack up in the air. The rope was draped over a high limb and the food pack was ready to pull up higher than a bear could reach, all they had to do was grab the rope and pull hard and fasten it off to a nearby tree.

Too late, the teens were in the lake trying to get away from the bear. The general consensus was “let the bear eat Gary.” The bear had run behind a big sloping rock shaking his head while trying to see. I ran up the rock a few feet higher than the bear, when he looked up at me I flashed the strobe again to further blind him. Agitated he ran back to where he was before and I once again ran between bear and food pack. The 3rd strobe flash in the bears eyes was the closest but something snapped in his bear brain that said “I’m out of here” and he turned around and ran straight into a tree with an umph. Bouncing off he broke brush and made all kinds of noise including snapping his teeth to show his displeasure as he ran into the dark forest. The teenagers became suddenly very brave as they raced past me yelling and whooping after the bear and disappeared into the brush. I heard them stop as it was quite dark in those woods, so I yelled after them “He’s coming back!” A few seconds later the teens were in the lake again.

I have at times in my life been accused of “Poor Risk Assessment Skills” and I suspect there was more that could have been said with another dozen stories similar in nature. There are actually a couple stories that were on the line whereas this one was more normal. I am, in my defense, quick to point out that I, and those who have gone with me, are still very much alive. This proves that my risk assessments are actually very accurate. So far.

One of my life skills is helping people “Really Live”

So when I got the call that a northern border river had cleared of ice in most spots, I was ready to go this past Monday with two other guys who have living life qualities similar to mine. I mean, raise your hand if you want to go fishing. Don’t put it down because it’s cold and the winds are, well, brutal. That’s why we put on warm clothes.

Ya, it’s a big one.

After a two hour drive we fished all day. The water temperature was 39 degrees Fahrenheit, the wind chills at zero and the walleye were not abundant. After 8 hours in the boat we agreed it was time to get off the water. Sigh…it was so good to be out there in the wind and cold with the fish sometimes barely hitting. I really don’t know what drives us to call this “really living.” We cannot wait to get out there again. Three men who are so different, but in the boat we have a fellowship of brothers (including the disagreements).

“Really Living” may find one chasing bear and living on the edge. “Really living” to another may be dirty hands and knees in the garden. “Really living” may be in the work shop full of sawdust or metal flakes. “Really living” sometimes forms words, phrases and paragraphs. Sometimes “Really living” is creating special life experiences to communicate, influence and even mentor others.

I get T-shirts and mugs with catchy sayings like “I Fish Therefore I am”, “Fishing Is Life”, “Born to Fish Forced to Work” and a host of other phrases that depict my passions in life. I have, however discovered a passion that works well with my passions. Bringing groups of teens and adults far into the wilderness both in summer and winter forces real life gifts and problems to the surface. On the fear spectrum, I am not afraid of much. I would rather face a bear (risk) than tip a canoe in a storm (high risk) or rescue a drowning man in white water (high high risk). My cliff diving days are over. I think. I probably will do mild weather winter camping from now on. Bringing Teen groups into the wilderness is possibly past, but, I still find myself living on or over the edge as a recent post depicted (Ya, laugh at my expense!!)

50 foot cliff diving
Minus 38 below weather outside, above zero inside..Yea

The truth of the matter on fearless risk taking is that my ball of twine in life will someday run out of string. I know that. We all die once and then face God while He asks us “why should I let you into my heaven?” The worst answer we could give is “Because I am a good person”. If you cling to your good you also keep all your sin and are thus disqualified to be accepted by God. Risky risky risky!!! don’t go there.

This is My own Easter message to you

Instead, accept that Jesus died for our sin and gives us his goodness to present before God. That is “Really Living

Meanwhile, I am a follower of Jesus. I do not follow from afar or slide from tree to tree hoping to not be seen (you know the type) I am really alive when I am in tune with God and his ways….Who would turn down having Love, Joy, Peace and a host of other very real things in ones inner life?

“A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (Jesus)


PS the bear pictures did not turn out. I’m sure glad the strobe worked.

Published by Gary Fultz

Outdoors Man, Hunter, Fisherman, Guide, Writer / Author, Photographer, Public Speaker, Musician, Song Writer, Story Teller, Follower Of Jesus. Love God and family and total strangers

50 thoughts on “Really Living

  1. You once commented on my site that you had been nose to nose with a bear before. Is this when that happened? Or has it happened more than once!?

    I love how you weave a great story into your own testimony of “Really Living” in Christ.

    PS. Fishing in at O degrees is something I’ve never experienced. Not sure about that one.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a different story David althogh the bear came within 10 feet of me. I have 6 bear stories face to face. This one worked the best for arriving at a point.
    Good warm clothes and wind breaking type pants and coats were the key to fishing…also good leather insulated gloves to warm hands after handling bait and fish. You would be fine.
    I think the nature of going for it in really living well outdoors has so many parallels to the Christian life. The no turning back attitude of Christ is vital.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Rule of thumb David
    When you think you have warm enough clothes to be on the lake, add one more good layer for an extra 20 degrees of warmth. It’s really hard to exercise and warm up the body in a boat if you get cold. Yes, the outdoors can be a very contemplative life although it still needs intentionality.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Well Gary, you brought back a whole bunch of memories. I spent a good amount of time in the woods when I was in the military, both in the summer and in the winter. Woodscraft 101 was the name of the game and I can still recall an old Sgt telling us young fellas, “only a fool has to be uncomfortable in the woods”. We learned all the old standards, how to create a lean to, to protect us from the wind and how to pick the site so the smoke from the fire would not blow into the lean to etc, basic survival skills stuff. Food always tastes better outside and knowing how to dress is a skill set in itself. It really is amazing on how comfortable one can be with very little to work with. Winter was another story, especially when it goes to go down to -40 degrees. Nothing moves at that temperature. And then there is fishing. There is just something about the smell of fresh water and the sounds, that is beautiful and peaceful, especially in the early evening if there are loons around. The early mornings aren’t bad either. Peaceful, calming, are words that come to my mind. And of course, if you actually catch fish, well that is a bonus. I can still remember a 3.5 lb small mouth bass that I caught and baked and how delicious it was. Fond, fond memories and some beautiful pictures in my mind that I will never forget. And I do have a couple of black bear stories but I will spare you. I call the woods God’s filter, because a lot of the crud disappears and the noise is natural, not man made and fits as it should, especially at night, amongst the stars. And there is no better classroom, anywhere. So I do understand the attraction and the peace with God that can and is found there. And I’m thinking that you’re a fortunate man. Blessings brother.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for some memories Bruce. nature sounds do fit in don’t they. I do recognize being fortunate at this stage of life and even when I worked a lot at jobs or self employed, we enjoyed country living. Fresh out of college we lived in the big city for 14 months. That was enough. We put the house for sale and moved to the country with no job but a lot of dreams. I live a quarter mile from a good fishing lake and have miles of forest, very wild forest to explore. We have bear, wolves, bobcat and an occasional mountain lion for larger predator’s. We cannot let our 20 lb dog out or the big owls will have it for dinner. You are right, we are in the middle of God’s classroom. which is part of God’s Art Gallery.
      Many insights can be gained if we see those details.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I enjoyed the pictures, and the story and testimony. I’ve lived here in a rural area for over 40 years, and think I can understand why you’d leave the city. Living close to nature a person can get “riches” the city doesn’t have.

    A friend of mine lives beside state gamelands. For awhile a bear came out of hiberation and wondered around the small rural community. Some people broke into houses, but after the bear appeared, the thieves disappeared. The bear was the “homeland security”. My friend said sometimes a bobcat comes around.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, “Riches the city doesn’t have. That’s a good description. Love the bear story, it makes one wonder if the thieves were using the woods. bobcat will scream like a woman being strangled at night…hair raising. We have a few around here as well as barred owls which get as noisy as a pack of coyotes.


  6. Unique ‘Risk Skill Assessment’ bear deterrent there Flash 🙂 PTL Salvation requires no risk assessment skill.
    All the best for all His best for a blessed Easter brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true Fred on salvation needing no assessment skills.. I have often thought about the simplicity of the gospel and how there is a way for everyone to understand their need for a savior
      I’m surprised not many have jumped on my skill assessment and self analysis. My mother would have if she were still here. I have a psychologist in the family. He will take care of it for everyone when he reads the post.


    1. Thanks Crissy. Of all the pictures I have taken, I would have liked these to turn out. It’s possible no one would go camping with me again though if they had turned out.
      The message of Easter is very much on my mind so most of my stories tend to tie in right now somehow.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a great post to read this Easter weekend! Wishing you blessings in all that you do…wilderness treks, fishing, and living life to the fullest. You are so right Gary…the abundant life we are offered in Christ is one we want to share with others. (Glad you were able to mentor to that bear to leave camp as well…) Nice to hear you share a brotherhood with your fishing companions in the boat…there is certainly a lot of ‘fishing’ to be done! (Matthew 4:19)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Linda, you gave me an idea for a blog title that must be written sometime. There are many reasons and levels as to “Why I Fish” One not being “It will save money” Truthfully the name of my boat is “Gary’s Office”

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Love the idea of telling the kids, “He’s coming back!” Norman Mailer wrote, “Each moment of our existence, we are either growing into more or retreating into less. We are either living a little more or dying a little bit.”
    As for cold weather, a friend from Canada informed me, “There’s no such thing as ‘too cold’; only inadequate clothing!” 😎
    As for fishing, you know that old saw about give a man a fish vs teach him how to fish. I’ll take the fish, thank you, and with tarter sauce and fries. 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Now you sound like my uncle who lives nearby…he wants all our “extra” fish. And another friend that I taught how to fish last year. The saying for him is “teach a man to fish and he will have to buy a boat”.
      They don’t even sell adequate clothing south of the Minnesota border. FYI

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 😂😂 Send some of those “extra” fish to Kentucky! And I’m not big on boats either. And for our clothes, you’re right. We had to get them in Canada and Mongolia!

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Well Gary you are quite a fisherman- of fish, men, and readers. You had me completely hooked with your opening sentence and reeled me in through the waters of laughter and suspense. I think you and Peter are going to have quite a time sitting around a campfire in heaven swapping fishing and ministry tales. The best part is that many of the teens & men you’ve ministered to in the wilderness will be joining you as well. Thank you for the Easter message. I hope you and your family enjoy a lovely Easter together.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It will be a good Easter Beth, thanks. Funny story. I had a guy in my canoe very early morning. It was 11-0 my fish to his. He is frustrated. He asked for a different hook. I gave him my tackle box and said pick one. He picked one I had never caught a fish on. I told him “You know what Jesus told his disciples “fish on the other side of the boat” (ya, my paraphrase). first cast he lands a 43″ northern pike, which in many states would be a state record. My agnostic friend commented “I guess I should listen to Jesus more”

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Thanks for a good read; and an interesting and deep Easter message, all wrapped into one.
    My dad had bear stories. His early lesson: poke the dead bear in the eye first, to make sure it’s really dead.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks Kathy. I have always seen bear as very sneaky. One snuck into camp one night and ate part of a life jacket, crunched my little tackle box, and put teeth holes in our water jug. We busted him when he started seeing what was in a canoe tethered to a tree. It moved against a rock and made a lot of noise waking everyone up. Bear get freiked out rolling bigger rocks between their legs and usually run. So when people ask how to get a pesky bear out of camp I say “Go bowling for bear” It works to have some rocks ready by the tent entrance


    1. Thanks Alan. There were other words used by parents fairly synonymous with brave should I look them up some day.
      Rocks work as well but the bears get all huffy over a good beaning with several rocks. So far I’m 6 for six on getting bear out of camp.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great story weaved in with pics too! But you ended with the BEST! Let us continue to share the GOSPEL and our testimonies and if one person comes to the LORD because of your writing here, then you have done what GOD has intended! Keep writing for the LORD and have a Blessed Easter! HE HAS RISEN!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too…….there are NO coincidences in this life. I call all of them: GOD-Instances!! The more in tune you are with the Holy Spirit, the more you notice them too. Blessings on your week!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Jennifer, So, so true. I know you hit on something that is so true for many people. Lots of conditions have to line up though as it helps to have a low mosquito and wood tic count. It helps if the wolves howling are a long ways away. It helps when nice birds are chirping and so on. For the most part, nature brings our senses and common sense together.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Alicia. If I can use my stories and analogies to push others toward a closer walk with our savior, or perhaps nudge doubt aside in someones life to look toward a relationship with Jesus. I guess i’ll find a way.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. You and my husband may have had some fun a few years ago. Me – I like safe. If I know it’s dangerous, I’m outta there – in the lake with the teens. Although I was once dumped in some rapids while my husband hung onto the raft. This too was with a group of teens who found it quite funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ha, Teens have a knack for laughing at the wrong time as well as showing up to help cook after it’s done.
    I hope the rocks didn’t beat you up. rapids are nasty that way.


  15. Gary, I woke up from a bad dream this morning fearing I should step away from writing. I’ve been a little distraught over so much of what I’ve been reading lately and have felt confused. But after spending time in God’s Love Letter this morning, I “heard” otherwise. Then following that up with your “laugh out loud, finish with tears” real-life-truth-sharing kind of writing, I do feel inspired to keep going! I think my little bird voice that once had perfect pitch still does live to “sing”.
    This is a wonderful piece, as are they all. And I just discovered your devotional! Thank you for your words. You “sing” on perfect pitch! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah Deb, hang in there. You make an old guy cry and be tickled at the same time. The pitch in your writing is awesome by the way. perhaps truth, wisdom, humility and honesty coming from the Spirit God has placed in us tunes us well. We will never (hopefully) be in tune with the rest of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

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